Woodmore's Long Savors It All

The Washington Post's Len Shapiro reports the latest from the sidelines of the PGA Championship.
By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 8, 2008

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich., Aug. 7 -- Dave Long, director of golf at the Country Club of Woodmore in Mitchellville, is having the time of his life this week playing in his first PGA Championship, despite eight bogeys and one double bogey on his opening round of 10-over-par 80 at Oakland Hills on Thursday.

Not even a suspension of play at 5:33 p.m. because of dangerous weather dampened his spirits. The stoppage occurred just as he was preparing to hit his second shot at the 18th hole, forcing everyone still playing to evacuate the course for 85 minutes as a thunderstorm erupted.

"It's been an absolutely fantastic experience," Long said. "It's just been a great education. I'm not talking about the first-time jitters playing in something like this. The game at this level is like what they say about pro football. It's a little faster, everything seems to happen a lot quicker. The fairways are narrower, the greens are really hard, and unless you're in the fairway, you can't get the kind of spin you need to get to some of these pin placements like you can do at your own club. But I'm having a great time."

Long, 41, earned a spot in the field by finishing 10th in the PGA Professional National Championship in June. He has been sharing the experience with the members of his Maryland club since he arrived earlier in the week. He is blogging about his experience, ( each entry is filled with insider anecdotes about his practice rounds, his playing partners and some of the big-time people he has been meeting on and off the course.

After his final practice round Wednesday, he wrote of his opening tee shot: "Bombed it right down the middle, and I mean bombed. The hole is 436 yards long, slightly downhill and I had the wind behind me. Our next shot was from 114 yards and five feet later, an easy birdie. It was the first time the crowd had seen a close shot on the hole all day. How did I know, you ask? They all told me. Awesome stuff."

He played a practice round this week with PGA Tour pros Vaughn Taylor ("self-absorbed," he wrote) and Rory Sabbatini ("a riot"). "After bombing my tee shot on the first hole, [Sabbatini] asked me what my last name was [Long]. Then he hit it two yards beyond me. That was the last time he got me (chest is now sticking out)," Long wrote. "Before I could pull the trigger on my 3-wood, Rory said, 'That's a very pretty shaft. Do they make that for men?' "

Estes Continues to Teach

Jim Estes, director of instruction at Olney Golf Park and known for his work in recent years teaching the game to injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, also struggled in his first PGA Championship, posting a round of 9-over 79 that included a double bogey and two bogeys in his last three holes after the storm delay. Still, the week has been a huge success because he put on a clinic for more than 150 spectators Wednesday working with several disabled veterans.

"This was a good one to do it at, being a major championship," Estes, 43, told the Detroit News. "I love this area for golf. I just can't get over how many people have come up to me and said, 'I see what you're doing with the wounded soldiers, and it's great.' " . . .

Anthony Kim, the 23-year-old winner of the AT&T National last month at Congressional, was at 2 under through his first 16 holes until a bogey-bogey finish left him at even-par 70.

"It's a little frustrating, but I've learned a lot from today," said Kim, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season. "What did I learn? To stay a little bit more patient. "

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